What You Should Know About Getting Started With Us
Since 1998, Nelson Kirkman has proudly served the people of Newport Beach and Orange County. We handle a vast spectrum of family law and divorce issues. If you are interested in retaining us as your counsel, please read a few of the following frequently asked questions and answers.
How do I contact Nelson Kirkman?
What will happen during our initial consultation?
Your first meeting with a Nelson Kirkman lawyer gives you the opportunity to make smart decisions about your potential divorce in its earliest stages, the most critical time in the entire process. We will share important information about your case and begin gathering facts to best represent you, whether the divorce is headed for court or mediation. You should come to the table with detailed information about potential complexities and a willingness to learn and build a team that will effectively represent your interests.
Should I prepare for my initial consultation?
Preparing certain information and documents before your initial consultation will make it a much more productive session. We advise new clients to bring the following items to the initial consultation:
- A written list of your questions and concerns so we can address them in a constructive manner.
- A financial statement, or even a simple written list of assets and debts.
- A written outline of important facts about the marriage that you think we should know, such as child custody, domestic violence, etc.
- If you have been served with court pleadings, write a detailed response to the allegations.
- A list of goals and expectations. What will a successful divorce mean for you?
- Provide three years of tax returns.
Can I represent myself in divorce court?
Yes, you may represent yourself, but even if you believe your divorce is simple, you should have a consultation with a divorce lawyer to make sure you aren’t missing hidden complexities that would cause the divorce to go against you.
Is the simplified summary dissolution procedure right for me?
If you have no children or real estate, the simplified summary dissolution procedure may be best for you. It is advisable to consult with a divorce attorney to ensure that you fully understand your rights and responsibilities.
Do I need a divorce lawyer for a simple divorce?
You may not need to retain a lawyer if you have already worked out the items in your marriage, such as child custody and support, the separation of assets, and especially if you and your spouse have similar levels of income. It is still advisable to speak to a lawyer to make sure you have addressed all possibilities.
Do I need a divorce lawyer if my spouse doesn’t have one?
Even without a lawyer, your spouse may have a better understanding of the law or be a better negotiator when it comes to court or settlement. There have been many cases in which a party learned that their spouse hired a lawyer on the day of a hearing, leaving them at a distinct disadvantage.
Do I need a divorce lawyer if I intend to mediate my divorce?
Some mediated divorces do not require counsel, but many make representation extremely valuable. Consult with our firm to ensure that your rights and best interests are represented no matter how your divorce may be handled.
What value will a divorce lawyer bring to my case?
Our firm provides invaluable skills and experience to help you gain the best outcome possible. Specifically, our team will help you:
- Negotiate and structure a settlement
- Recognize good and bad deals
- Understand the true terms of legal documents
- Prepare for trial
- Become familiar with how the courts rule on issues similar to your case
Can I afford to hire a divorce lawyer?
To determine if you can afford a lawyer, you must consider two different questions. First, determine the cost of hiring a lawyer to represent you in your divorce case. Good lawyers will be very open with you regarding the overall cost of your case. Second, you must determine the cost of not being represented in your divorce case. Once you realize that a great divorce lawyer may make the difference in paying thousands of dollars a month for years, you may look at legal fees in a different light.
When should a divorce go to trial?
Most divorce cases settle out of court. Some clients demand their “day in court” and hire attorneys who are focused on litigation, but this typically results in drawn-out and expensive divorces. Cases are more likely to go to court if they include matters on which the law is unsettled, the divorcing parties can’t agree on who will be awarded certain assets, and child custody is being contended between the parents.
What’s the best process to complete my divorce?
There is no simple answer to this question. Each person is unique, and each divorce case is also unique, whether it is simple or complex. Our firm will help you learn the positives and negatives of each path a divorce may take to achieve the most successful outcome possible.
How long will my divorce take?
There are far too many variables in a divorce to provide a simple answer for how long a divorce will take, especially given the severely backlogged court system. If the divorcing parties are mutually civil and their attorneys are settlement-minded, a divorce can be relatively fast and as inexpensive as possible. If a divorce is contentious, or experts are involved, or the matter heads to court, the divorce will be slowed down considerably.
Can mediation help me avoid attorney fees?
Mediation without the assistance of a divorce lawyer may save attorney’s fees upfront, but the mediation may result in a disastrous settlement that costs many tens of thousands of dollars more than attorney’s fees would have cost. The cost of mediation may be much higher than hiring a divorce attorney to expertly represent your best interests.
What characteristics make spouses good candidates for mediation?
Divorce mediation is most effective when both spouses demonstrate the following characteristics:
- Are okay with “losing”
- Trust the other party
- Are not hostile
- Are both ready to end the marriage
- Will collaboratively resolve issues
- Hold equal personal power in the marriage
- Hold equal access and understanding of the finances
- Have a similar idea of “fair”
Can divorce mediation fail?
Yes, mediations sometimes fail to reach a settlement, and in other cases achieve an extremely unfair settlement. Notably, a failed mediation tends to polarize the divorcing parties, increasing the negative feelings between them. Many people attempt mediation when they aren’t even good candidates for success based on personality and ill feelings between the parties. Mediation may also be used as a delay tactic for one party to make financial moves or take other actions that may harm the other party in the long run. Consulting with a lawyer will help you better understand exactly what is happening with mediation and also help you identify a good settlement deal as opposed to a disastrous one.
What enforcement options are available for family law orders?
Family law court orders are often enforced by private attorneys although the Department of Child Support Services may get involved in certain circumstances. Family law court orders cover a wide range of topics such as spousal support, child support, custody and visitation rights, and payments due between parties. When orders are not voluntarily complied with, enforcement options include a contempt finding, an abstract of judgment, a wage assignment, and other remedies as deemed necessary by the court.
Reach Out To Our Team Today
We at Nelson Kirkman are ready to assist you with every step of your divorce, custody dispute or other important concern. Reach out to our Newport Beach law office today to learn more. Call us at 949-430-6952 or send us an email to schedule a confidential initial consultation.